// sel____ // tal________ // unu_____ // valu____ (costs a lot of money)
// wea______ (if you can buy the Mona Lisa, you must be extremely wea_____) // Xenop_______ (do not like people from other countries) // ye__ – _____ (lasts for 12 months) // Zamb___ (person from Zambia)
One night in the Czar Bar, a tall thin man walked in, ordered a beer and, the bar stools all being occupied, stood quietly against a wall and drank alone.
Chris didn’t like the look of him from the start. He was older, probably mid-forties, possibly more. Even in the poor light of the bar, his skin was visibly pockmarked, from disease, drug abuse or both.
He had heard Germans talking about ex-Stasi (the East German Secret Police) informers and knew the incredible statistics; as many as one in four people gave information and spied on their neighbours. The forty odd years of the DDR had generated as much paperwork and files as the rest of German history combined.
This man, alone, out of place, was, Chris decided, a clear ex-informer, probably here to spy on the bar and the customers, to close it down, gather names, prosecute for all the illegal activities.
When he had finished his beer, he walked over to the bar and put the empty bottle carefully on the counter. Chris snarled,
The man shook his head, and said, in English but with a soft accent,
“No, thank you.” Then he smiled. It was a smile of serenity and peace, that completely disarmed Chris who instantly changed his opinion. “Tchüss, Jake,” he said as he left.
“Ah, yeah, tchüss, Ragno,” answered Jake as he put empty bottles into a crate with one hand and pulled out three more beers with the other.
“Who was that ?”
“Oh, Ragno. Haven’t seen him for a while. Good guy. No problems, has his beer then goes.”
“So we ain’t gonna get rich off him ?”
“He’s got a young girlfriend, so . . . “
“Ah,” said Chris, “yeah, why would he get drunk if he’s got a babe waiting for him. Fuck, how does he do it ? Face like that ?”
“No, he’s a nice guy. Well, I dunno, he had a young girlfriend. Not sure if they’re still together.”
Robert, in apparent apropos of nothing, let out a,
“Shit on a stick !” while Peter lifted a half empty beer bottle to his lips and momentarily silenced the bar with an amazingly pure note.
Chris wanted to know a little more about Ragno, but a round of vodkas was ordered and by the time the bar had quietened down, he had forgotten all about him.
2) By meowing … ? No, cats meow (mostly) to get attention from humans. With other felines, cats use scent and touch, maybe hissing, and body language, but not by meowing.
3) Trick question … a snow leopard CAN’T roar; it can hiss, purr and meow but only makes a non-aggressive sounding ‘chuff’.
4) A polar bear’s skin is black, it is just the fur that is white. Also, polar bears live in the Arctic, the penguins spend their time on ice in the Antarctic, so they only meet in fake pictures.
5) Did you say AUSTRALIA … used by Aborigines ? Boomerangs were invented some time between 25 000 and 50 000 years ago, and used for hunting. The earliest one was found in POLAND, believed to be 20 000 years old. The first boomerangs DID NOT fly back. The Aborigines are thought to have discovered that a boomerang will return if made of curved wood, but these were used for sport, not hunting.
6) The War started in 1337 and finally ended in 1453, so a total of 116 years, although there were long periods of truce and peace.
7) Fortune cookies were invented by the Japanese in the C19th, then became popular in California, USA starting first in either San Francisco or L.A. (it is disputed, but the time period would be 1890 – 1918)
Followed by a game. I shall show photos of five of my friends, along with some personality adjectives and occupations. The class simply have to guess my friends’ job and what kind of people they are … and justify their decisions.
A major issue I encounter with ESL students is pronunciation and associated features such as intonation, stress, rhythm and pacing. Therefore, I decided to select some English-language poems for practice in class, while online students can find a multitude of YouTube videos of poems being recited by professional actors. I shall add some links at the end of the blog.
Now, without further ado, poetry.
Let’s take a look at the first poem, ‘Dreams’ from 1922.
Recite the poem slowly and clearly. In the first line, stress ‘fast‘ and ‘dreams‘.
Secondly, listen for the rhyming pattern in lines 2 & 4: ‘die’ rhymes with ‘fly’, while verse 2 rhymes ‘go’ with ‘snow.’
Regarding ‘colour’, which tone of voice to use, decide if this is a positive or negative poem. Discuss in class what you think and give reasons.
Remember, art (painting, cinema, literature etc) is subjective; each person is allowed to have their own opinion. Develop speaking skills to enable you to support your views (give reasons).
Who, or why, or which, or what, Is the Akond of SWAT?
Is he tall or short, or dark or fair? Does he sit on a stool or a sofa or a chair, or SQUAT, The Akond of Swat?
Is he wise or foolish, young or old? Does he drink his soup and his coffee cold, or HOT, The Akond of Swat?
Does he sing or whistle, jabber or talk, And when riding abroad does he gallop or walk or TROT, The Akond of Swat?
Does he wear a turban, a fez, or a hat? Does he sleep on a mattress, a bed, or a mat, or COT, The Akond of Swat?
A great poem to demonstrate rhythm as well as ‘floating opposites’ e.g. young & old, hot & cold, not forgetting synonyms such as talk & jabber. Now, for really advanced beatniks, try the beginning of the famous, indeed infamous, poem ‘Howl’
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz, …
The poem, along with a recitation by the poet, may be accessed here:
Vietnamese coffee kept warm in a three lions bowls, the lions being a symbol of England. If you love coffee, you’ve come to the right place; coffee shops are _________________ in Sai Gon, and throughout Viet Nam.
Lady Thu stated that she would (try) ___________ to learn more vocabulary.
I expected the students to pass with flying colours, but instead I was very _______________________ by their low scores.
Mr Sang knew every answer, he was really _________________________ last night.
Passing a driving test in Vietnam is easy. _______________________________ .
Those Armani T-shirts are absolutely fake ! At that price, no way are they ____________ .
Street food stalls are ubiquitous in my neighborhood; the food is (tasty) ______________________ and the prices are quite ___________________ .
Mr Lee (adverb) _____________ promised me he would be on time for the meeting.
We also covered some basic introduction phrases which you categorically have to memorise:
Some standard opening lines:
That’s a very interesting question
Well, that’s a great question
Well, there is so much to say about that subject, where shall I start ?
It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about …
As a young Vietnamese (add your own nationality), I …
And now, a typical IELTS question: What do you do in your free time ?
Remember the first rule of introductions: never answer the question immediately. Remember the second rule of introductions: never answer the question immediately.
So, how to pass with flying colours ? Ah, c’mon, Man, you should know by now ! OK, breaks down like this. Give me:
A great introduction
An organised speech, point by point (use ‘signpost’ language).
At least one idiom
Ideas linked by discourse markers
Appropriate intonation, stress & body language
Well, that’s quite an interesting question because, as a young Vietnamese student, I don’t really have much free time. I have to study all day, then do homework in the evening; I’m really burning the candle at both ends. However, when I have time to myself, I like to hang out with my friends and forget about school.
Firstly we meet in coffee shops, which are ubiquitous in Sai Gon, and talk and laugh. Highlands in my favourite because it has free WiFi as well as being very comfortable although some of the coffee prices are sky-high.
Additionally, I love swimming which, in my opinion, is incredibly healthy, and it doesn’t require much equipment. Subsequently, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
However, my absolute favorite past time is to sing karaoke, which I believe comes from Japan, in a private, sound-proof room. For me, it’s a perfect way to relax and forget all my stress about work, life and my parents !
Ôi Trời Ơi – OyVey! – Are you kidding me ! Last night’s class was chockablock with new, high-level vocabulary:
Ok, take it easy, let’s break it down. Firstly, you were not expected to learn or remember everything; I told you to … well, you tell me. Try to complete the sentences with the new words. If you need help, the vocabulary box follows the questions, while I’ll put the answers at the end of the blog.
1) I didn’t understand everything, but I got the ________
2) Light and sound travel in ___________
3) X-Rays and microwaves are a form of (type of) __________________
4) For me, trying to pronounce Vietnamese words is a real ____________
5) Can you buy twelve eggs ? Yeah, buy me ______________
6) I don’t understand the Zoom instruction video, there’s so much computer __________
7) One of y tá (nurse) Cam’s duties is to take a patient’s ________ , to measure their heartbeat.
8) They love each other dearly, but they don’t always see __________________
Tonight’s class will focus on the town of Green Bank, Virginia (which is a southern state in the USA). Green Bank is a very small town. The population in 2019, according to Wikipedia, was 182 yet it has become famous as the town without Wi-Fi. Wireless internet is banned and mobile phones (cell phones USA) are unable to make or receive calls, nor can they send texts. The reason …
Telescopes can be used for light or for sound. The above picture shows the radio telescope, which is 485ft tall, at Green Bank. It listens out for sounds from space. You may hear electromagnetic radiation in the class video.
Light and sound travel in waves. A star will emit light waves but electromagnetic radiation can also travel by radio waves. Giant telescopes are situated in areas with low light pollution while radio telescopes need to be in areas without Wi-Fi or mobile telephone, which can cause interference. You may have experienced this on an airplane when you are told to switch off phones during take-off and landing.